The Federal Tort Claims Act: Where To File And Who To Sue

Assuming an administrative claim is properly submitted and is denied and a lawsuit is thereafter commenced, the lawsuit must be filed in United States District Court, not in a state court. One advantage of proceeding under the Federal Tort Claims Act is that such a suit can be brought in the Federal Judicial District where the plaintiff resides or where the negligent act or omission occurred. Thus, if a person is traveling, as an example, and is hit by a postal carrier running a stop sign while on vacation, the lawsuit still can be filed where the plaintiff lives. Once the lawsuit is filed, a copy of the Summons and Complaint must be served upon the Attorney General of the United States in Washington, DC and upon the United States Attorney for the District in which the action is brought.
It must be noted that when a Complaint is filed against the United States that the Complaint can only name the United States of America as the defendant. The Complaint cannot name the employee or the federal agency in the Complaint but only the United States of America. As the defendant, United States will have sixty (60) days in which to answer a plaintiff’s Complaint not the typical thirty (30) days. Where to file? U.S. District Court–either where the tort occurred or where the claimant resides. Who to sue? Only the United States of America.

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